Neuropsychology Review

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 25–43 | Cite as

A Comparison of Structural Brain Imaging Findings in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

  • Chase C. DoughertyEmail author
  • David W. Evans
  • Scott M. Myers
  • Gregory J. Moore
  • Andrew M. Michael


ASD and ADHD are regarded as distinct disorders in the current DSM-5. However, recent research and the RDoC initiative are recognizing considerable overlap in the clinical presentation of ASD, ADHD, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. In spite of numerous neuroimaging findings in ASD and ADHD, the extent to which either of the above views are supported remains equivocal. Here we compare structural MRI and DTI literature in ASD and ADHD. Our main findings reveal both distinct and shared neural features. Distinct expressions were in total brain volume (ASD: increased volume, ADHD: decreased volume), amygdala (ASD: overgrowth, ADHD: normal), and internal capsule (ASD: unclear, ADHD: reduced FA in DTI). Considerable overlap was noted in the corpus callosum and cerebellum (lower volume in structural MRI and decreased FA in DTI), and superior longitudinal fasciculus (reduced FA in DTI). In addition, we identify brain regions which have not been studied in depth and require more research. We discuss relationships between brain features and symptomatology. We conclude by addressing limitations of current neuroimaging research and offer approaches that account for clinical heterogeneity to better distinguish brain-behavior relationships.


Autism spectrum disorder Brain imaging MRI DTI Neurodevelopmental disorders Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chase C. Dougherty
    • 1
    Email author
  • David W. Evans
    • 2
  • Scott M. Myers
    • 1
  • Gregory J. Moore
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Andrew M. Michael
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Autism and Developmental Medicine Institute, Geisinger Health SystemLewisburgUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyBucknell UniversityLewisburgUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Advanced Application, Geisinger Health SystemDanvilleUSA
  4. 4.Department of RadiologyGeisinger Health SystemDanvilleUSA

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